In the all too familiar pattern, things are going boom, Americans are under attack, and the American political class is already busy playing the “See No Jihad” minuet.
In a rational world, where our highest imperative would be to understand the threat that confronts us rather than to find the least offensive way of describing it, it would be patently, undeniably obvious that we are targets of international terrorism fueled by Islamic supremacist ideology. Nevertheless, the political class can only bring itself to say this kicking and screaming, and only if there is no other plausible alternative — which basically means a terrorist caught in the act while wearing an ISIS T-shirt.
Speaking forthrightly would also undermine a fiction the political class inanely believes is essential to social cohesion: The notion, oft-repeated by President Obama and Hillary Clinton, that Islam is part of the fabric of American life, as native in our history as apple pie and Judeo-Christian culture.
Islam, of course, is an alien belief system. That doesn’t make it bad per se. Our society is a melting pot and many things alien to it have blended their way in, making us more vibrant, dynamic, innovative, and successful. Clearly, though, not everything alien is benign and welcome.
Because we are trapped in a politically correct fantasy world in which terrorism has nothing to do with Islam and Islam is innately American, the political class can never admit that obvious jihadist attacks — such as those that just occurred in New York, New Jersey, and Minnesota — are international terrorism. Indeed, we are in a state of such self-parody that, this weekend, it somehow became “intemperate” and “un-presidential” to conclude that attempts (some successful) to detonate IEDs — as in, improvised explosive devices, a.k.a. bombs — were in fact bombings.
Islamic supremacist ideology is far more important than ISIS and al-Qaeda because it is what created ISIS and al-Qaeda.
The playbook has become so tired. Nothing can be considered terrorism, even a mass-casualty attack with the objective of intimidating a civilian population or government (the legal definition of terrorism) unless and until there is convincing evidence connecting it to a known terrorist organization — usually ISIS or al-Qaeda. It is acceptable, you see, to label as “terrorism” an attack connected to these organizations because the political class has pronounced them as non-Islamic (even anti-Islamic), since they do not adhere to the imaginary, relentlessly benign Islam that the political class has dreamt up and designated as the one and only “true” Islam.
Thus, when a terrorist attack happens, the first thing we must do is worry about evil, divisive haters (we know who we are) who dare presume to call it a “terrorist attack.” After all, they could stoke a “blowback” — i.e., “hate crimes” against Muslims, committed mainly by the white racists with which America teems.
This reaction stems from the political class’s designated representatives of the Islamic community in the United States. These are Islamist-activist groups, mostly sprung from the Muslim Brotherhood — CAIR being the most notorious. In point of fact, said groups are not representative of most Muslims in the West. In reality, they are hostile to pro-American Muslims, especially those who oppose sharia encroachment and favor a peaceful solution to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict in which Israel’s right to exist is acknowledged.
Still, the Islamists, aside from being well funded by overseas sources, are loudest and leftist. Therefore, they are the ones who receive the political class’s sympathetic attention. Indeed, over the last two decades (and particularly in the Obama years), they have become government consultants who instruct policymakers on how to think about, and talk about, terrorism.
Here is reality: The enemy that unifies the terrorist siege against the U.S., Israel, and the West is Islamic supremacist ideology, which aims to bring the world under sharia dominion. This ideology is far more important than ISIS and al-Qaeda because it is what created ISIS and al-Qaeda. It was the catalyst before those jihadist organizations existed, and it will be around when they are gone — for as long as we fail to take it on without apology and discredit it in the light of day.
The attacks spurred by this ideology, like those carried out this weekend, are international terrorist attacks, regardless of whether the operatives who execute them are affiliated with or inspired by a designated international terrorist organization. There are no “homegrown” attacks because the ideology is alien. There are no “lone wolves” because the wolves are part of a huge pack — a fundamentalist Islamic anti-Western movement that has millions of adherents, some percentage of which will always be willing to take up arms and kill for the cause.Pro-American Muslims need us to help them discredit the fundamentalists. We cannot do this without openly acknowledging — as, for example, Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has courageously done — that the roots of jihadist aggression are Muslim scriptures. This must not be obscured by political correctness. The scriptures in question must be acknowledged and reinterpreted in a manner that confines them to their historic context and nullifies a literal interpretation of them in modern life.
If we don’t confront the animating ideology and its stealth supporters with every bit as much energy as our police pursue the murderous jihadists, we lose. Winning begins with cashiering political correctness, with speaking openly about, and understanding, what we are up against.
— Andrew C. McCarthy is a senior policy fellow at the National Review Institute and a contributing editor of National Review.